KATE FOX (b.1829-1892) and MARGARET FOX(b.1825-1892)
At ages 11 and 15 respectively, the Fox sisters started the whole spiritualist/seance’ movement in 1848 in upstate New York. Much of modern occultism has its roots in Spiritualism. Spiritualism had no hierarchy, was often practiced in the homes of the followers, and women played a prominent role. It was the Wicca of it’s day.
About four decades later, after years of poverty, failed marriages, and alcoholism, the sisters confessed the strange popping sounds had been made by the girls cracking their toe joints. The thumping sounds heard by their parents were made by simply bouncing an apple on the floor! Catherine even became a Roman Catholic and renounced spiritualism (calling it “evil”) at one point, but she backslid later and settled back into her old ways. They wrote a book exposing the truth called The Death Blow To Spiritualism, confessing the whole thing had been a hoax.
The gals tried a road show, demonstrating how they popped their toes (they were double jointed), but it failed to draw large audiences. A few people just didn’t want to believe their confession, and evidence of this is the fact that even while the Foxes were on tour denouncing themselves as fakes, Kate still gave seances for money to private clients! A year later, failing to get rich by ‘fessing up, they then recanted their confession and tried to return to Spiritualism. Mediums knew they were really fake all along, because they used all kinds of tricks in these seances’ (wires, mirrors, etc.), and were eventually exposed by skeptics, including magician Harry Houdini. Skeptics and disillusioned followers of the day didn’t buy the Foxes latest story…that they had lied about lying.
Spiritualism had indeed received a death blow, and from the very people that started it. The days of a new book on Spiritualism coming out each week were over. Kate was arrested in 1888 for drunkenness and “idleness”. She lived from then on by begging and borrowing and died impoverished in 1892. Margaret died a few months after her sister Kate, and followed her into a pauper’s grave.
The masses left spiritualism like rats leaving a sinking ship. Spiritualism had a brief re-surge after WWI, with lonely people who tried to contact dead loved ones lost in battle. Once again, there were Mediums ready to prey on the desperate. Seances became a popular parlor trick, but died out again with the advent of the radio. Now people could hear the disembodied voices of Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, and Abbot and Costello, as well as news sports and commercials. Once again spiritualism was all but extinguished.
Even though spiritualists today swear the Foxes were legit (it’s called being deluded), they don’t even give seances in the last Medium camp at Cassadagga, Florida anymore. The Fox Sisters, founders of the Spiritualist occult religion, were self admitted fakes and failures.